How to compare pilot salaries

It is such a simple question but the reality is that it is really hard to answer. 

The reason why we can’t say “this is what a pilot makes” is because pilots salaries vary all over the world and even within the same company pilots are likely to be paid different.

In general:

  • The salary usually reflects the cost of living and taxes where the pilot is based.
  • Typically pilots flying jets have a higher salary than pilots flying propeller aeroplanes
  • Roughly speaking, the bigger the plane the higher the salary
  • In most companies when pilots go from co-pilot to captain their salary increases about 30%

Pilot salary – things you should know

Most pilots will not have the same pilot pay (edit: salary) every month. 

Instead most pilots will have basic pay, production pay and what can be described as “extras”.

Basic pay is what the pilot gets every month regardless of flying or not.

Production pay is usually a combination of an hourly rate paid for every hour away from base to cover meals (per diems) and then a rate the pilot will get per hour of operating the plane. 

In general pilots in Europe get a high basic but low production pay.

In the states it is the other way around and the hourly rate the pilot get per hour flying is high.

Extras are pension, insurance (private health, dental etc), share schemes, bonus, discounted holidays/ flights and in some case travel and housing allowances.

Seniority linked salary. Seniority is how long you have been in the company and in many companies there are yearly steps where your salary goes up. In some companies you find as many as 20 steps in others it may only be a few steps.

Role based salary. Pilots working in a training role, for example a simulator instructor will get paid more as well as those pilots that have a management or office role. 

Many expat pilot packages include a lot of extras and when you then include low taxes they probably come out as some of the best paid pilots in the world.

With so many variables it can be hard to compare a pilot salaries. Another thing that makes it difficult is that what pilots earn is not shared openly by the airlines. 

That is why we have done some research so you can get an idea. We have collected data in EUROPE, ASIA, MIDDLE EAST, LATIN AMERICA, NORTH AMERICA, AUTRALASIA and AFRICA.

Stay tuned if you want to see what pilots in different segments earn.

Happy landings

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